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Sony's excellent XMB interface is streets ahead of just about everything else on the market at the moment in terms of design, ergonomics and cross-product compatibility.
This ingenious arrangement organises everything along two axes, inviting one to scroll horizontally between the main headings and then vertically among the various sub-menu options.
It'll take some getting used to if you've only encountered tabular arrangements before (although Philips fans might recall the Dutch brand briefly experimenting with a similar concept five or so years ago), but once you've become attuned to the system you should find it effortlessly navigable.
The menus are presented on attractive, translucent black filters with clear white text and immediately obvious graphics that 'glow' when selected.
That it integrates seamlessly with other – suitably recent – Sony hardware is likely to be a big boon for the brand-loyalists looking to build a wider home entertainment system and the Bravia Sync technology enables you to bring several components under the spell of the remote control that ships with this set.
Speaking of which, the handheld unit is a lesson in unflashy user friendliness, with, pleasingly precise buttons spread nicely over a concave upper surface that encourages your thumb to hover just over the central 'OK' button, with the other major keys arranged in a concentric ring outside the directional keys.
You might occasionally find yourself mistaking the former for the latter, inadvertently opening up the settings menu when you meant to scroll up or down, and there's an extra standby button on the underside of the remote for some unexplained reason, but generally speaking the KDL-40EX703 is an absolute doddle to operate.
Initial installation takes a matter of moments, with a few simple clicks of the 'OK' button being all that it takes to get both digital and analogue successfully tuned in and, having done so, the clear, neatly organised EPG is a pleasure to behold, with clear text, a clutter-free layout containing plenty of programme information and a thumbnail window displaying the channel you're currently watching.
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